French electro-swing outfit Caravan Palace brought their sold-out Chronologic tour to an enthusiastic and sweaty crowd at The Observatory North Park this week. While Santa Ana conditions kept San Diego hot and dry, Zoé Colotis and company were able to get the Wednesday crowd bouncing to their particular electronic swing/jazz sound despite the audience’s heat-induced, hump-day lethargy.
Playing The Observatory for the first time, Dani Bell & The Tarantist(s) warmed up the crowd with their psych-pop theatrics, Dani clearly enjoying the opportunity to strut her stuff on stage and off, venturing into the photographer pit for a kazoo solo. Even though the house PA was unusually bottom-heavy, the group’s showmanship was on full display behind their masks and Dani’s vocals still managed to shine through clear as a bell.
Caravan Palace came out swingin’, although the sound system levels left one wondering if Arnaud’s guitar was plugged in and Victor’s saxophones were properly mic’d. Within a few songs, however, a balance was struck and while the electro remained heavy, the swing was more noticeable. By the time the band got through their latest single, Miracle, the crowd was primed and ready for their rousing cover of Black Betty.
Thanks to San Diego’s proximity to the music mecca of LA, Caravan Palace was able to bring out guest vocalist Charles X to perform the duet About You with Zoé, again amping up the crowd before launching into arguably their biggest hit, Lone Digger. Soon after, Antoine ventured out from behind his “electronics” to have a proper swing dance with Zoé, earning the evening’s most enthusiastic reaction from the appreciative audience.
Ending with the acid/electro sound of Clash, Caravan Palace left the multi-generational, variegated crowd in a happy daze with plenty of perma-grins all around. Set lists were handed out and selfies snapped while a few hundred happy concert-goers queued up at the merch tables, eager to prolong their euphoria with a new T-shirt or vinyl album. All in all, a great show from a band that fully embodies the electro swing genre.